As Congress considers a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration even more power – including charging drug companies five times as much for safety reviews – CBS News applauded the move.
“With the FDA about to run out of money, and with the commissioner there warning there could be two thousand layoffs, Congress is on the verge of passing a funding bill for the FDA – a bill that would also fix the high-profile safety problems of the last few years,” said CBS Washington Correspondent Wyatt Andrews on the September 19 CBS “Evening News.”
The law, which has already passed in the House and is expecting Senate approval September 20, is going to cost the drug companies $225 million over five years. The five-fold increase is supposed help pay for the new regulations.
CBS didn’t include anyone from the pharmaceutical industry, the seafood industry or the pet food industry – all of which would face stricter regulations under the bill. Instead, the network turned to “consumer advocate” Bill Vaughan, a senior policy analyst with the Consumers Union. Vaughan had nothing but positive things to say about the law and also threw in a negative comment about the drug companies:
“This was a great day for consumers … the FDA will be better able to keep the drug companies honest, and if they know that they can be exposed for hiding drug data, and hiding research data, they won’t do it in the first place,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan has a record of promoting liberal, pro-regulation causes. According to an opensecrets.org  search, he has donated thousands to Democrats, including John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee.
The FDA has been under fire for recent lapses in safety standards. In June, Congress held hearings about the regulatory agency for failing to foresee the complications created by the GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug, Avandia.
The new regulations include an FDA ability to demand drug safety studies after a drug maker gets approval. The agency also would have more control over the ads the drug companies run. And, the drug companies will be forced to release publicly the results from clinical trials.
But, according to Henry Miller and Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, these actually could create detrimental effects for consumers.
“These ill-conceived policies would also increase the already astronomical costs of bringing these medicines to market, raise prices, and reduce incentives for developers to undertake experimental projects,” Miller and Conko wrote.
They also said, “No genuine reform is possible until Congress acknowledges that no medicines are risk free and even drugs that pose considerable risk may, on balance, provide net therapeutic benefits.”